Fallas

Here is just a small sampling of the hundreds of fallas that dot the city. It’s interesting to think that these are so temporary. The most common comment I get when I mention to people back home that these will be burned at the end of the festival is something like “what a waste.” I don’t think so. Everything is temporary and this festival celebrates that along with the concept of renewal…and besides, things that burn and go boom are so coooool!

We’re still looking for the one we want to watch burn.

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

Speaking of burning, we are still deciding which one we want to see get torched. We’ll have to stake out a spot early as the crowds get very large for the better and larger fallas when it is time for the crema.

Oceanogr√°fico

The Oceanogr√°fico, billed as the largest salt water aquarium in the world, was something we really wanted to see while in Valencia. It did not disappoint!

Oceanografico
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Oceanografico

The aquarium tunnel alone was extremely interesting and fun to walk through and take pictures in.

Oceanografico
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Oceanografico

Oceanografico
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Oceanografico

At one point I dropped my hat without realizing it and the friendly scuba diver alerted me to the situation

Oceanografico
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Oceanografico

Thank you Aquaman!

We saw many fine aquatic creatures including this very cool Sea Dragon

Oceanografico
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Oceanografico

And these jellies

Oceanografico
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Oceanografico

The highlight of the exhibit was this very tame and very curious Beluga Whale

Oceanografico
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Oceanografico

The best aquarium I have ever seen and in such a wonderful complex. If you’re ever in Valencia, it’s a must see.

Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias de Valencia

It was a spectacular day today so we walked the 45 minutes along the dry riverbed to go see the City Of Arts And Sciences.

It was like walking on to the set of a sci-fi movie from the 60’s.

City Of Arts And Sciences
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City Of Arts And Sciences

City Of Arts And Sciences

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City Of Arts And Sciences

City Of Arts And Sciences

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City Of Arts And Sciences

I was marvelling at how clean the water was. Then I saw this fellow.

City Of Arts And Sciences
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City Of Arts And Sciences

Very cool space and not overloaded with tourists oddly enough.

Fireworks

There are nightly fireworks displays that occur around 1:30 am each day. We decided to take a nap and get up and go see one.

After waking up we found a nice little Italian restaurant and had dinner with a bottle of one of the local wines. It was quite tasty.

After dinner we headed out to see the fireworks.

A large group of people gathered on one of the bridges that goes over the dry riverbed very near the hotel so we staked out a spot about an hour in advance.

Cynthia wanted photographic evidence that she was actually out after midnight.

Cynthia after dark

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Cynthia after dark

There was a very cool group of drummers getting the crowd worked up

drummers drumming

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drummers drumming

As it turned out, it was a good thing we got there early as the fireworks started abut 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

ohhh, pretty

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ooooh, pretty

Walking back there was a near miss as someone from down in the riverbed was lobbing fireworks up on to the sidewalk from down below. Not just the splody kind. They were like bottle rockets only bigger…and flying randomly. It was actually a bit frightening.

Folklore Parade

The Folklore Parade is an event that shows off the rich cultural heritage of Valencia. Lots of traditional costumes and pageantry.

The parade was supposed to start at 10:30 pm. It ended up starting close to 11:30. The crowds were massive and we ended up staking out a spot where the lighting was not so good but still had a great view of the event.

Only a few shots as processing these images on the MSI Wind is challenging

Ninot Exhibition

A few samples of the ninots from the exhibition. Each one is about the size of a person and is only a small part of the entire fallas, of which there are nearly 300 scattered about the city after the planta which is today.

Cynthia was, as those who know might imagine, quite delighted to find a giraffe ninot…

This gives you an idea of the workmanship that goes into these things.

Hard to imagine that these will all be burned at the end of the festival.

East Side Represent

Houston - East Side

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Houston - East Side

John Nova Lomax invited me to go on one of his Sole Of Houston walks. This time he was hitting the east side. The plan was to just sort of meander out to 75th Street and then head north to Canal and then head back to town. It was VERY interesting. We started about 9:30 am and finished about 4:30 pm. We covered a LOT of ground. You can read the story here: Sole Of Houston: East Side Story — Trains, Tequila, Dogs & Grief. There’s several more of my photos in the posting.

Proud New Father

The new baby has arrived. Lensbaby that is.

Lensbaby
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Lensbaby

The above image may look like one of my Photoshop fake miniatures, but what you see is what came right out of the camera. The Lensbaby is a poor mans tilt/shift lens. And yes, I know the Lensbaby is NOT a true tilt/shift lens, but it’s also not $1500 to $2000 and happens to be available for the Sony/Minolta mount.

The Lensbaby is a manual focus lens that lets you focus on your subject and then utilizing the ball and socket design, move what they call the “sweet spot” of focus anywhere in the frame so that your subject is clear and everything that surrounds it is blurry.

My Sony Alpha 700 will shoot with this lens in aperture priority mode which helps with the light metering. Actual aperture is controlled by magnetic aperture discs that go in the lens

The Magnetic Aperture Set with the magnetic wand aperture removal tool and custom storage case ships with the lens. The discs allow apertures of f/2 (no aperture disk installed), 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, and 22

Lensbaby
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Lensbaby

I’m struggling with the manual focus but the lens challenges me to take my time and think about what I am doing. It’s light weight and rugged so it’s easy to add to the photo kit, just in case you see something that lends itself to this style of photography.

Stop Making All That Racket!

Sapsucker or Woodpecker?

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Sapsucker or Woodpecker?

Sapsucker or Woodpecker?

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Sapsucker or Woodpecker?

I was in my home office this morning and heard this guy outside. He was pecking to beat the band. I believe him to be a sapsucker as spotted previously but I could be mistaken. More likely a Downy Woodpecker which seems more common. He’s very high up in the neighbor’s tree, but the SAL-70300G did a fine job in the bright, early morning sun.

Galveston Oh Galveston

The weather for the last few days has been spectacular. Lows in the 50’s and highs in the 60’s and 70’s. I had Friday off and wanted to take advantage of it so I invited my friend Jim Henkel to head off on a road trip to post-Ike Galveston to have a look around.

The Flagship Hotel

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The Flagship Hotel

Galveston is still very tattered. Lots of debris and devastation but signs of life and reconstruction were plainly visible. I wasn’t all that interested in documenting the destruction, but the sight of the Flagship Hotel was pretty compelling.

The Flagship Hotel

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The Flagship Hotel

The Flagship Hotel

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The Flagship Hotel

We checked out Seawall Blvd and then headed to The Strand (Galveston’s historic district) where they were making preparations for the Galveston Mardi Gras. And by preparations I mean people were busy stocking the storefronts with booze.

We found some lunch and then headed off to catch the ferry over to Bolivar Peninsula to have a look around. That was way more depressing. We took a quick look around and then made our way back to Houston.

The road to recovery is a long one for poor Galveston.

I Got A Basketball Jones

I was commenting to some friends at one of the recent Geek Gatherings how it had been awhile since I’d been to a basketball game. I’m not a huge huge fan, but Cynthia is. I enjoy it well enough but the real joy is watching Cynthia watch the game.

Turns out the person I was talking to was a season ticket holder and he said that he could hook me up sometime as he didn’t go to every game. I didn’t think too much of it until a few weeks later when he contacted me and offered tickets to the Rockets VS. Mavericks game.

The tickets are at the Red and White Wine Bistro, an upscale all you can eat restaurant and wine bar. Food was included with the ticket but you paid for the wine. And the seats are right on the balcony with a great view of the court.

The Toyota Center has a 4 inch limit on lenses so there was no bringing my long zooms. I settled on my 11-18mm with the idea of capturing some wide angle shots like this one:

Rockets VS. Mavericks

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Rockets VS. Mavericks

Click to see the larger version and check out the detail.

And although I know it is getting more and more passe and trite, I took the opportunity to create a fake tilt-shift miniature:

Rockets VS. Mavericks

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Rockets VS. Mavericks

Again, the larger version is much more enjoyable.

The food was excellent, the seats were great and we had a blast! The Rockets even won!

Thanks for the use of your tickets, Alan!

Urban Development

The folks who brought you The Continental Club, Sig’s Lagoon, Tacos-A-Go-Go and Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top Lounge are at it again. This time right next door @ 3600 Main.

The derelict building that sits next to The Continental club has been vacant for years and was recently acquired by the same folks that own the property @ 3700 Main and innovation is well under way. I was asked by Pete Gordon (manager of The Continental Club) if I could swing by and snap some “before” photos or what promises to be a very cool space in the not too distant future.

As they are working to demo the building they are finding that a very interesting art deco style facade was simply covered with stucco by the previous owners.

Pete tells me that the intention is to try and preserve as much of the original exterior as is possible which is very commendable.

If you squint just right and imagine it with some paint to bring out the original design you can just make out what a wonderful space this is going to be. There’s already plans for a coffee shop and a pizza/burger joint and if Pete has his way, a new club called “Wallpaper”…

In these interesting economic times it’s heartening to see the hustle and bustle of new development. As I was taking pictures numerous people stopped to see what was going on and one woman waiting on the train was misty-eyed as she spoke of her own personal joy at seeing something being done not only to restore this old building, but also of her optimism in seeing something that demonstrates growth in this city while the news outlets continue to issue their dire warning doom and despair.